You may or may not know that I write for a man’s magazine in San Antonio titled, San Antonio Man. I touch on topics based on feedback I get from “the guys.” Moving forward, I plan to periodically repost some of the most popular articles. While I admit that my blog often speaks directly to women, most everything I talk about can benefit my male audience as well. So here is a Monday morning shout-out to the guys:
More and more guys are discovering that spending time in the kitchen can be therapeutic, healthy and a lot of fun. Cooking for friends is a great way to entertain — that is, if you know a few tricks of the trade.
Here are a few simple rules to remember to keep your kitchen company-ready and make a good impression on your guests:
- Throw out that sponge! It doesn’t take long for a kitchen sponge to go from a helpful cleaning tool to a germ-breeding science experiment. Keep a good supply of fresh sponges tucked away in a drawer or cabinet and don’t hesitate to replace them when they start to smell like your gym socks.
- Rotate your kitchen towels. Just like your sponge, it’s easy to overlook the hand towel that you use daily as a potential kitchen hazard. If you are not aware of when the last time it went into the washing machine, it’s overdue. Between drying your hands, cleaning up red wine spills and drying your dishes after dinner, that little absorbent towel has been wet longer than it’s been dry. Stock up on multiple kitchen towels and keep a drawer full, rotating them frequently. The key is not to let them sit in your washing machine and mildew – you’ll never get the smell out. Even better, have separate hand towels for different purposes — one for drying clean hands or dishes, and a separate one for miscellaneous mess-wiping. Note to man self: Paper towels are the best choice for drying your hands. Easier to grab and go and more hygienic.
- Baking soda is miraculous. Keep a box in your freezer and another in your refrigerator and you will considerably reduce any funny taste in your ice cubes, frozen foods and perishables. Change the box monthly and rinse it down your sink drain which will help with sink smells too.
- Cross-contamination caution. Straight out of Cooking 101, when something (knife, cutting board, towel, hands) touches raw meat, poultry or fish, into the wash it goes. If you are entertaining multiple guests and one is allergic to a particular food product (first of all don’t serve it!), make sure and keep your counter and everything else separate for the sake of the allergic guest.
- Sanitize! Disinfecting wipes are a great quick clean up idea to stash under the sink for stove and kitchen counters after a messy cooking jag.
- Maintain your cutting boards. Wooden cutting boards don’t last forever. Clean wooden boards with a good dose of bleach every now and then. Throw plastic ones away when they show signs of wear. If you wash them and they still feel slippery, toss it.
- Freeze and label. Casually tossing something in the freezer will be confusing a few weeks or months later when it looks like a strange colored block of ice. Invest in a black sharpie, some freezer bags or freezer paper and label with the food item and date you placed in the freezer. Time flies and suddenly 2012 was three years ago!
- Upgrade your glassware. Simple details like a great set of drinking glasses makes a nice impression when you are entertaining and serving guests your signature drink. Invest in drink ware that is actually made of glass, rather than industrial plastic or mugs with beer logos on them. Serve coffee in something other than promotional coffee cups from your office kitchen.
- Clean your cabinets, crevices and coils. When it comes to tidying up the kitchen, don’t overlook the fronts of your appliances, cabinets and drawers, especially the places where your hands touch and make marks. Clean over the hood of your stove vent and crevices between the cabinets and major appliances. Pull out the refrigerator, vacuum the dust off the coils and clean the top of the refrigerator. Guests may not be looking, but it must occasionally be done.
- Master one meal that you’re proud to serve. Though you are not Bobby Flay, you can still master one meal that you enjoy cooking and can dazzle your guests with. When it’s your turn to host, you will always have a delicious, reliable, “go to “meal that becomes your “specialty.” When rushed, order out!
With a little effort, your kitchen will become one of the favorite rooms in your house or apartment. Bon appétit!